The La De Da's Profile

aka The La De Dah Band, The Mergers
Andrew Schmidt
21 Apr 2013

In their 12-year journey through New Zealand and Australia in the 1960s and 1970s, The La De Da’s never took a backward step. They conquered New Zealand with a passionate live show, a string of hard, uncompromising chart singles and two of the best NZ albums of the 1960s.

Changing gear from R&B to psychedelia, The La De Da's shifted base to Australia in 1967 and 1968 where they released New Zealand’s first rock opera, The Happy Prince. In England in 1969 they captured a fine version of The Beatles’ voodoo rocker ‘Come Together’ at Abbey Road studios before returning to Australia and success as pioneering festival blues rockers.

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Interview with Kevin Borich
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The La De Da's taken in late 1966 or early 1967 at a Upper Hutt Youth Club Dance, Upper Hutt Rugby Gym
Photo credit: Photo by Reveille Jackson. Mark Nicolle Collection
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The La De Da's taken in a King's Cross laundromat shortly after they arrived in Sydney, 1967.
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Phil Key with Band Of Light performing Crossroads
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Trevor Wilson and Brett Neilsen
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1966 La De Da's publicity shot
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The La De Da's first single release on the tiny Talent City label owned by Robert Handlin. Sales were few making it the the rarest release by the band.
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1966 La De Da's publicity shot
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A Zodiac publicity shot taken in Auckland's Albert Park in 1966
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Phil Key clowning with The La De Da's at a Youth Club Dance at Upper Hutt's Rugby Gym in late 1966 or early 1967
Photo credit: Photo by Reveille Jackson. Mark Nicolle Collection
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Roger Bradley's design for the second La De Da's album, originally released in 1967
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The La De Da's: Phil Key, Bruce Howard, Brett Neilsen, Trevor Wilson, Kevin Borich in a 1966 Zodiac publicity shot
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The La De Da's at Caesars Place, King St, Sydney, 1967
Photo credit: Bobi Petch Collection
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Phil Key with Gene Vincent in Paris in 1969
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The La De Da's: Bruce Howard, Kevin Borich, Trevor Wilson, Phil Key and Brett Neilsen in the mid-1960s, venue unknown
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The 1967 Hey Baby flyer
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Good Morning Good Morning (Australian TV, 1972)
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The La De Da's Fan Club postcard, 1966
Photo credit: Grant Gillanders collection
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The iconic cover for the band's 1966 debut album, designed by Roger Bradley. Recorded at Zodiac Studios in Auckland, the album includes the all-time New Zealand classic How Is The Air Up There.
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Kevin Borich in the mid 1960s
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Gonna See My Baby Tonight (GTK, Australia 1971)
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Bruce Howard in Auckland, venue unknown, 1966
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Kevin Borich in the 1970s
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The La De Da's in Queen Street, Auckland, 1966
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The Galaxie nightclub newsletter the week The La De Da's left for Australia, 1967. 
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An early live shot of The La De Da's with both Bruce Howard and Phil Key singing and Kevin Borich clearly amused at the interaction. The venue is unknown.
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Phil Key
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The La De Da's, early 1965: Trevor Wilson, Phil Key, Kevin Borich and Brett Neilsen
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The La De Da's hit Te Awamutu in 1967
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1966 publicity shot
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Live at Anzac Rock Hordern Pavilion, Sydney 1974, from GTK
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The La De Da's now very collectable April 1967 EP Stu-Pid-I-Ty was issued on Philips via their distribution deal with Zodiac. The four tracks appeared on no La De Da's album at the time.
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And in the end - the final La De Da's lineup as trio: Kevin Borich, Keith Barber and Ron Peel (ex-The PleaZers) around 1973. 
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The La De Da's down by the ferries, near Westhaven, Auckland, 1966
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The La De Da's on the cover of Teen Beat, October 1966
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From 1967: "The La De Da's have left their Sandringham flat to prepare for their trip to Australia next month".
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All Along The Watchtower (GTK, Australia 1971)
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1960s publicity shot, somewhere in Auckland
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Cover art by Bob Haberfield for 1969 'concept' album recorded at EMI Studios in Sydney. Written by Bruce Howard and Trevor Wilson, The Happy Prince featured spoken word interludes by Adrian Rawlins between the tracks. The album was re-released on CD in 2005 featuring versions with and without the narration.
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The business card for The Mergers. In 1965 they would become The La De Da's after a suggestion from a mother  - some versions say it was Phil Key's, others credit Trevor Wilson's mother - who was less than happy with the suggested new name, The Criminals. She jokingly suggested instead that they call themselves "something nice, like The La De Das".
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The La De Da's shortly before they went to Australia for the first time in May 1967
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The La De Da's: Brett Neilson, Bruce Howard, Kevin Borich, Trevor Wilson and Phil Key in Herne Bay, Auckland, 1966
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Members:

Trevor Wilson - bass

Reno Tehei - bass

Bruce Howard - keyboards

Keith Barber - drums

Phil Key - guitar, vocals

Kevin Borich - guitar, vocals

Brett Neilsen - drums, vocals

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Labels:

Zodiac


Philips


Parlophone


Action!

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Trivia:

There are many versions of The La De Da's' signature tune How Is The Air Up There?, including the original releases by The Changin' Times and The Blues Magoos – there's even a version by The Bangles. In New Zealand, the song has also been recorded by The Jordan Luck Band, Ted Brown And The Italians, and The Hasselhoff Experiment.

The intro to How Is The Air Up There? did not come easily. Eldred Stebbing had tried several times and was unhappy. He was about to give up when co-producer John Hawkins said to try one more time and gave the band warning that this was their last chance. On the next take they nailed it.

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